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Information on 'enemies of Scientology found' in Italian police raid
Rome, Italy - Secret dossiers of information on the "enemies" of Scientology were found when Italian police raided the movement's offices in Turin.
During a nine-hour search of the offices, Carabinieri officers are said to have discovered a cache of files hidden in a basement behind a locked door.
The files allegedly contained personal information relating to judges, magistrates, journalists and police who had reportedly been deemed hostile to the US-based Church of Scientology, Italian media reported.
Police seized computers as well as handwritten files, which are also said to contain details of former members of the religious movement.
The raid was ordered by magistrates who suspect that the local chapter of the worldwide movement may have violated laws governing the holding of sensitive data, including information about the health, political opinions and sexual orientation of a range of people, La Stampa newspaper reported.
Scientology, which counts among its most high-profile adherents the Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, was founded in 1953 by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
The controversial religion is often criticised as a cult. It was denounced in the Australian parliament in November, when a senator described it as abusive, violent and manipulative, and only narrowly escaped being banned in France after being prosecuted for fraud.
In the United States, two former members launched a landmark law suit against the movement last month, alleging that for years they were treated little better than slaves and forced to work 20-hour days.
Claire Headley alleged that she was coerced into having an abortion, while her husband Marc said he was subjected to strange mind-control exercises.
The Church has denied all the allegations and has questioned the plaintiff's motivation in bringing the law suit.
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